It's Legal Here...

It's Legal Here...

An insecure writer writes about other writers' writing. 

An Abundance of Katherines - John Green

I think I loved it even more. 

Reading progress update: I've read 385 out of 447 pages.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond

*excessive, labored breathing* 

 

That was -pant- the most interesting -pant- and exhaust--pant--ing history book I've ever read. 

 

*collapses from science exhaustion* 

 

(disembodied voice in the corner): You know you still have to read the epilogue and like three more chapters, right? 

 

*desperate gasp for air, followed by a drunken--

 

whhaaaaat?!

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
0 Stars
Shhhhhhhhh...
Soundless - Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead's Soundless opens on a mining village, nestled high in the mountains, fed and fueled by miners and suppliers and painted and documented by artists. 

   Fei is an artistic apprentice, helping to construct a large canvas every day that serves as a kind of report: the happenings, the weather, in calligraphic and painting form.

   What makes the village unique, however, is how Soundless gets its title. For hundreds of years, no resident has possessed hearing, and no one speaks, ever--it might be so that Fei's village is soundless to even an outsider. 

   This presents a few challenges for the story right off the bat: sound must be excluded from imagery, there must be no spoken dialogue, and mead must find a way to create a working society that functions, for the most part, only on sight. 

   It's safe to say that Mead does this well: I can believe that this village could exist, and I can believe that it would function the way it does. I'd guess this is a result of establishing the known, non-magical world before our hero sets off on our journey. 

   For a while, we spend this time with Fei as she observes her post and wanders the Peacock Court (her home as an apprentice), and the story stays interesting because we're constantly learning here, and as we do, the stakes gradually get higher. 

   It goes from "I have to finish my painting" to "I have to help my sister keep her job so she doesn't starve" to, "oh, and our miners are going blind, which means the survival of the entire village is at stake." 

   The risks and issues everyone in Fei's village has to deal with (or Feice badum tsss) make for a compelling start, and everything in Fei's path as she sets out to aid is even more so. 

   I only wish the situation of "no verbal communication" had been more creatively used as an obstacle to Mead's usual style of storytelling. For the most part, all the gaps where quoted words would have been written are filled with only italicized words, sentences of sign language, and they're all pretty much the kind of character dialogue we're used to. 

   Also kind of missed in this context is the fact that it's necessary for only a small portion of the novel. After we've been introduced to Fei, her village and the conflict, we discover that she's just developed the ability to hear. 

   On the one hand, this kind of tosses the cool thing about Soundless: that it's supposed to be soundless. There's also the question of whether or not hearing is actually necessary. We could've followed Fei, her being deaf the whole time, and discovered that sound, this thing we all assume we can't live without, can actually be lived without. Plus, deaf characters aren't often protagonists in books, and getting one in a fantasy revolving around the concept of deafness would've just been plain cool. 

   On the other hand, Fei gaining her hearing is a catalyst of interesting narrative opportunities. Mead inarguably takes advantage of these, throwing the audience into an interesting experience of learning sound for the first time. Mead's acknowledgements mention how a linguistics professor aided her in writing about language acquisition (always read the acknowledgements, folks), something minute enough to partially be lost on the reader at first, but enough of a detail that it doesn't go over your head once you think about Soundless for a while. (Or, in my case, left with nothing to do at a brunch place for about two hours, reread nearly the whole thing.) 

   Observing auditory sensation from an unexposed perspective is, in a good way, jarring, and ends up being a well-utilized tool in adding something new to the necessary scenes of re-introduction and--ugh--negotiation. 

   But, even in those necessarily boring moments, Soundless retains a sense of adventure. Though Soundless is definitely unique, it's still, at the core, a classic hero's journey. What you would think of when you think of "adventure."

   The most famous elements are easily recognized, the call to adventure being Li Wei's brave pledge as a result of his father's death. The threshold is reimagined as the face of a cliff. The belly of the best is the realization that the kind uses the village simply as a supplier of metal, despite the danger, by keeping them all starved. The threshold is once again crossed when Fei and her fellow citizens return to a new normal, Fei richer for her acquired knowledge and the goal achieved through outsmarting and defeating the enemy. 

   The problems resulting becomes the application of this hero's journey as a whole, which could be argued as lacking. 

   Don't get me wrong, the hero's journey is a set formula for excellent stories. When used to good result, any film, book, or story otherwise told can be made into a legend. But the catch is that you tend to have two options: you can copy it to a T, complete with spiritual aid and the goddess' reward, or you can twist it and subvert it until the connection is no longer obvious. 

   Soundless does neither of those thing. It follows the hero's journey to a generalized degree. But it subverts it as well, though in weak ways. The "final fight" at the end is hardly a fight on Fei's part, her mentor is barely involved, and she returns from home before her metaphorical journey is actually complete. (These might all be intentional, but from a standpoint of an English student, they just seem like things Mead couldn't get around to better fit the hero's journey.) 

   I'm aware that these things could be dubbed worthy and skillful changes. But your fantasy doesn't have a perfect effect when only modified moderately. Its mystical power is dulled. (Tip: when your reader is expecting a proper battle, it's in your best interest to give them a proper battle.) 

   Which brings me to a miner flaw: it gets quite dull, at certain moments. The venture to the other side of Beiguo to meet other villagers isn't that exciting, nor are some moments during Li Wei & Fei's time in the forest. I suppose the last half of the novel fares well, but we spend a whole lot of time lingering and observing the town longer than is necessary. 

   The tools that apply to your exposition won't stick for your rising action, or, and oh god, this was so close to happening, your climax. 

   Thankfully, the dullness doesn't weigh the story down completely. 

   But the romance is steeped in it. 

   I find Fei's relationship with her childhood friend, Li Wei, to be similar to the romance between Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games, which I first loved, but later rolled my eyes at upon further reading. It's just boring. I'm not sure what else I should add. Do I have bad taste in romance? I'm aromantic, so it's a possibility. Is it a product of other writing just appealing to me more? I guess. Have I been spoiled by the opportunity to explore darker parts of the human psyche and now just find idea, healthy relationships in fiction to be boring? I wouldn't know. Tumblr definitely would, but I don't. 

   For now, let's just leave it at "Fei & Li Wei are too tame for me." 

   Move on? Move on. 

   The main reason I wouldn't slap "dull" on the whole novel is the fact that there are some excellent, tense moments. 

   Two in particular come to mind: the bar/inn scene where Li Wei wins a bet, and the part where they both stumble upon an abandoned village much like theirs halfway down the mountain. 

   The inn scene is a perfect example of interpersonal tension at its finest. The wager, both literal and will-the-guards-catch-us-wise, is almost palpable here, and the payoff is short, sweet, and an effective introduction of an in-story device. The red silk dress is a good choice for a few reasons: it holds the weight of Beiguo's comparative wealth, it becomes Li Wei's moniker of his brashness and willingness to take a chance, and it's visually the strongest association we get out of the novel; whenever I think of Soundless, I think of Fei's bright red silk dress. The inn sequence also succeeds as a break of sorts: the enemy is still hot on our hero's tails, but for a moment, we have a mini-narrative that connects, has the same risk on a large scale, but has a different short-term risk, a different thing for us to worry about and anticipate if only for one short scene. The thing: whether or not Li Wei ends up winning the bet. 

   On a different scale, the other scene, where Fei and Li Wei discover the remains of another village on their way to the valley, is just as attention grabbing in a more punctuation, and dread-filled way. Everything about this scene: the astounded hope at the beginning, the slow, trickling realization, the description of the skeletons and frozen life of the place, and the final rush of fear, is beautifully and effectively written. The most poignant part of the scene is where Fei pauses, and puts together the pieces, wondering if her village will fall to this same fate, and how exactly it will happen as she watches, aware, yet helpless. It has echoes of the Moria scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, the past creeping up to the present in a suspenseful and exciting way. 

   The climax, despite its lack of straight-up formal battle, is exciting as well. But it pinpoints a flaw that detracts from the arc: the pixius. We know Soundless is meant to feature magic, but it's literal myth at the beginning, and it's brought back as basically a hail mary at the end. A key part of the payoff is missing. When you introduce an element of the story, you tell the audience about it (it doesn't matter if it isn't considered 'real' yet), you remind the audience of it later (clears throat), and finally pay it off at the end. Problem is, the pixius, or any notable mentions of them, are all but absent through the entire middle of Soundless. Come on, Richelle Mead, rule of threes, you should know this!

   I'm not going to lie, though, the imagery used to describe the pixius at the end is nothing short of gorgeous. Even if the pixius didn't work, I'd probably be guilt of lumping them in anyway, just because they're so goddamn pretty. 

   But Soundless isn't lacking in goddamn pretty stuff, which makes sense, considering the fact that it's narrated from the perspective of an artist. I'm going to cheat, partially, and go back to the always-mentioned-in-reviews bit at the beginning, where Fei just passes at her post and gazes at orchids. That description is just straight-up beautiful. Fei's always mentioning how she'd paint things like that had she possessed the resources, and i'm like, "well, dang, I'll sponsor you; I just gotta see that shit!" 'Cause that's the best part of Soundless. If any book could be categorized as 'literal fucking painting,' this is it. Moral of the story: always use an artist to narrate it.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
0 Stars
And Ten There Were None
Ten - Gretchen McNeil

No mysteries about it--Ten is entirely unremarkable. In all honesty, the 'several kids stuck on an island with a murderer' concept is hardly a new one, and the extreme archetypes of high schoolers that most definitely exist here make for a quite status-quo-abiding story, albeit a somewhat more exciting one. 

  Ten's real savior is the same as another McNeil novel by the name of 3:59: mystery and suspense, both finding their peak in ambiguity, and unknown. This is always at a certain point of the story: it's been long enough for the protagonist to have figured out what's happening, but the details are still out of sight, and she has yet to take the culprit(s?) down. 

   For the entirety of Ten, we follow an introverted writer (how unrealistic) named Meg, as her weekend of fun (translation: drama) slowly descends into midterms-level chaos. She most certainly isn't revolutionary in the way of heroes, but she and Josie have something in common, as the respective heroes of their novels. Both of them are smart and analytical, getting rid of the requirement for male backup (though not getting rid of the backup himself) and doing away with the formality of freezing the story in fear or confusion. 

   It could be argued, however, that horror is nowhere near about being centered around character work, and that looking for internal struggle is moot, as our character must simply be a vessel for thins we discover about their circumstances as action--not emotion--leads the narrative onwards. 

   We begin Meg's journey by meeting her best friend, Minnie, a skittish, loyal perfectionist with an interesting--if problematic--story/character arc and a tendency towards interpersonal conflict. 

   Minnie is where the narrative comes closest to questionable. In a horror novel with neither the influence of the eerie or paranormal at play, one must rely solely on the twisted capabilities of the mundane human mind. Minnie, for a time, becomes both a subject and a point of conflict, just like all the other characters, but the difference between her portrayal and everyone else's is the fact that she had bipolar disorder, and it's occasionally used as an explanation. This is where it becomes daunting for an author to go on with such a character in hand. A point of notability for McNeil, however, is the fact that Minnie's disorder doesn't become an exoneration under pressure to positively represent a mentally ill character. (But it's still iffy.) I'm not going to lie, the way she twists motivation and the need for belonging is actually quite fascinating, and Minnie's desires make her an intriguing possible culprit. 

   Minnie also has several subsequent appearance in the predominantly typical first chapters. It's a good thing that the "first few essentials" as I call them, are established in this comparatively short time. Mainly because while McNeil lays the traps of uncertainty well, her interpretation of the gore-less, average teen world is boring, stagnant, and hellish. She constructs cliques and archetypes you recognize (not from real life, from other teen novels) and lulls you to sleep with the same traditional order of social tension you've likely seen (and rolled your eyes at) at least a dozen times.
   It's not until things get interesting (see: bloody) that McNeil's characters even begin asking for your attention. Here, you take interest in the commanding narcissist once she cracks, the charming boy-off-limits once he's put in life-threatening danger, the genuine jackass once he's made to trust through desperation, or frankly, most everyone else once they're dead. 

   Long story short, I don't give a shit about her characters unless they're about to get murdered. 

   But even in this situation, the average build-up can be made exceptional through fitting ambience. What does it feel like when you read of breathing the heavy air? Of cit closing in on you, while surrounded by the winds of paralyzing fear? Of walking through a wonderland of horrors, each step begging something else to go wrong? In Gretchen McNeil's case, it feels just like it should: utterly chilling. I swear to god, this woman could make a crowded Starbucks scary. You watch. (er, read.)

   A Northern West Coast island may not immediately strike as the perfect stage for a series of murders, but the way everything is described suits the ominous plot line perfectly, in all the moments we spend alone with Meg in the dark. Or, in the case of a few particularly memorable scenes, the storm. 

   This storm is used as a method of isolation for intensity, as is the resulting power outage, or the sheer distance of the island itself. They ball build a "wall" entrapping our characters in the same way you might lock battling teenagers in an arena. 

   The use of isolation here is excellent, for McNeil uses it to press a burden of urgency on the situation, and it even ends up being more effective than any personal struggles bearing the same cause. It comes to a point beyond the strange, where we're all playing a guessing game of, "what will go wrong next?" 

   It is here in the sequence of events that Ten truly hits its stride. Once the pressure ramps up and the bodies start stacking, mcNeil gets to flex her puzzle-building skills in what can only be called a thrilling sequence of uncertainty at its very best. 

   At its very worst, however, it veers off into the same basic tensions we read about for the first several chapters. We're faced with what is essentially a re-has of similar arguments, but argued with fewer and much louder voices. 

   A highlight of the good would be the emphasis of problem-solving in dire situations. Along with a worthy trail of clues, a suspense writer must have a worthy set of actions, steps the protagonist must take to uncover (rather than stumble upon) the next clue. We constantly watch Meg search the island for solutions, before finding an "it's too late" dilemma and being forced to search for something else. 

   The new revelations tend to come at a decent pace, which is a guaranteed garner of success for a tale of suspense. In addition to this, each new point of conflict is creatively thought out, yet fitting, and it inches towards the point of throwing us a bone in the form of a pattern, but never quite reaches it. Meg faces a similar situation, but with less time on her hands. 

   meg also spends much of the book teaming up with a fellow high-schooler named T.J (the aforementioned male backup), who works well as a sidekick, but seems to drag the boring machinations of high school into moments least in need of their presence. He's also something of a Gary Stu, savvy in anything and everything necessary, allied in a simple and un-compelling way, and utterly standard. I'm just going to say it: he's not interesting or messed up to be in a horror novel. His bland safety comes close to--but never actually reaches--the point of canceling out Gretchen McNeil's ambience or suspense writing. 

   And then, just when it seems we might truly be presented with a shocking twist, our established status quo is preserved. It's safe to say that readers expecting a complete shock will ultimately be disappointed--after all, it only makes sense: the horror element is most effective while slightly hidden, and when all is revealed at the end in a climax and a crazed confession, the conclusion tends to be underwhelming. 

   But with Ten, the problem is exacerbated by the disappointing central payoff of yet more teen drama. And don't get me wrong, it isn't obvious the whole way through, but it's obvious near the end. (And that's enough for it to feel predictable.) 

   It's quite frustrating, actually, as Ten was shaping up to be a challenging, elaborate puzzle of a thriller. 

   However, even though Ten occasionally falls into its own traps, it's worth a read if one enjoys pondering, gore, and watching "normal" life go terribly wrong. The archetypical characters are played around with enough to not be wasted, the storyline moves fast enough not to dawdle, and it makes just enough use of its premise to be somewhat memorable in the hands of a seldom reader of horror. 

   To sum it up, Ten works for some entertainment, and a little mental challenge, but it is in no way free of fatal flaws, or, thankfully, fatal wounds. 

Reblogged
A-Z ways to arrange your bookshelf

 

Let's say it loud, a bookshelf in book lover's life isn't only a space to collect books. It's a space to show your reading personality, it's a place to praise your sweethearts. Your bookshelf is You. The way you arrange your bookshelf tells a lot about you.

 

BookLikes bookshelf also offers a set of features which allows you to present your bookish personality with your book collection.

 

 

5 Bookshelf personality types

- what kind of reader are you?

 

1. Alphabetized bookshelf - you're well organized, up to date, never late and always right. Classy reader.

 

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2. Color oriented - you're an artistic type with a bright and energetic personality, you love doing DIY, never bored, full of ideas and plans to be engaged in. Happy hippie reader.

 

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3. Author sorted - you like meeting new people and getting to know them a little bit better, you're open minded but confident of your stand. Smart reader.

 

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4. Genre listed - you're an adventurous type with many buddies around, always on the go, ready to hit the road without a specific plan. Extrovert reader.

 

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5. No order - you're a mess but in a positive sense. You're carte blanche, introvert personality, you're emotional but at the same time you keep a poker face. Mystery reader.

 

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BookLikes bookshelf know-how

 

BookLikes is a place where you can not only start your book blog and review books but also present your book collection in the most desirable way. The following bookshelf description is a reminder of numerous shelf options available on your shelf page on BookLikes.

 

To add a book to your bookshelf, please click any book cover in the service and press +Shelf.

 

 

Here you have the fast shelving options:

I - choose a reading status

II - select a thematic shelf, can be accompanied with a reading status;

III - add a new thematic shelf

IV - show advanced shelving options

 

If you select option IV (+Shelf advanced) the bigger pop up will appear with additional options to choose from:

 

 

A. Read / Planning / Currently - choose a reading status if you haven't done this in the fast shelving view 

 

B. Progress - set your progress with accordance to the book edition (paper book/pages; e-books get % and audiobook/minutes)

 

C. Set dates - add reading dates (the dates when you start and finish the book) to make the book count to your Reading challenge

 

D. Edit shelves - add new one or choose from the ones you have (note: deleting the thematic shelf will not delete the books from your shelf page)

 

E. Edit exclusive statuses - add your own reading status if Read, Planning and Currently aren't enough (e.g. New, DNF)

 

F. How do you feel about this? - show your bookish feelings with emoticons :)

 

G. Other options - use these tick boxes to mark a title as your favorite, add to to your wishlist or mark as private (it will be visible only to you)

 

H. Private notes - view or add a private note (visible only to you) concerning this very title

 

I - click Save and go explore more BookLikes, or Save and write a review to go to the text editor page

 

The Read status has two more options:

 

 

J. Rating - add rating stars, including half stars!

K. Dates - add reading dates, including re-read dates!

 

 

OK. Filling up the bookshelf page with my favorite titles was easy-peasy. What to do next? First you should answer the question which reading personality type are you, decide how you'd like to arrange your books and then read the following section with the Shelf page options on BookLikes. 

 

 

1. Add a new thematic shelf - a new thematic shelf will be added to your shelf page; you can also set it as status, then it will be added under other statuses: Read, Planning to read and Currently reading.

 

2. A Shelf search - search your shelf, type title or author;

 

3. Sort option for your books - choose how to view your books;

 

4. Your private notes - find books with your private notes; the book with a private note receives a little dot under the cover;

 

5. Shelve it!  - a feature that helps you shelving new books from other webpages, move the Shelve it icon to your bookmark bar and click when visiting a book pages of Amazon and other booksellers;

 

6 and 7 - Cover view and Table view for your Shelf - choose which one suits you better;

 

8 - Shelf Settings - a gateway to manage your shelves, statuses and sorting options, have a look at available options below. 

 

 Shelf settings:

 

 

There's quite a lot of things to do in here:

 

a. add shelf -  add a new shelf, or set the shelf as an exclusive status;

 

b. choose the default shelves order - alphabetical or manual (then you can decide how to order your thematic shelves);

 

c. shelf Page view - the cover view or the table view for your admin shelf page; 

 

d. books order - how books on your shelf should be presented (this is how you and your blog guest will see the books on your shelf);

 

e. visible columns - chose which columns should be visible in your table view

 

f. rename - change the name of your thematic shelf;

 

g. position - if you wish to set your shelves manually, you can choose theirs positions (write number or use the drag and drop);

 

h. set an existing shelf as an exclusive status;

 

i. delete the shelf.

 

Remember to Save all the changes in the particular sections to make all the updates visible on your Shelf page. 

 

If you choose to view the table view of your shelf page,

here's what you get:

 

 

i. select one or several books, this will activate the option on the top of the table view ( see: k, l, m);

 

j. select all the books - you can select all the books visible on this shelf page;

 

k. add to shelves - add selected book(s) to your thematic shelf/shelves;

 

l. take books off the selected shelf - choose a thematic shelf, select the books and take them off the chosen shelf; the books will stay on your Shelf Page, only the shelves they are on will be changed;

 

m. delete books from your shelf - select book(s) and delete them from your shelf page; even if you delete the books from the Shelf, the review attached to this book will remain on your blog;

 

n. choose how many books per page in the table view to see;

 

o. sort options; cover - see book without a cover and add missing images to green books; Title/Author - alphabetical order; Ratings - according to your rating stars; My review - books with/without a review; Date Read - finished reading date;

 

p. add rating stars to your books;

 

q. add review, see review or edit review; the options depend whether the review is attached or not; 

 

r. edit shelves for a given book - move or add the book to your thematic shelves;

 

s. add the finished reading date - remember that only books with filled up Read Date count to your reading challenge; 

 

t. delete a book from your shelf;

 

u. change an edition - choose other book edition to be presented on your shelf page.

 

 

This shelf compendium covers many shelving issues, if you have any doubts or questions, please let us know in the comment section below or mail us directly.

 

Reblogged from BookLikes
Some Cool Facts!

1. Do you have a certain place in your home for reading?

I read wherever. I don't have a specific place in my home for anything. In fact, while we're on the subject, I'll bring up the fact that I don't even sleep in the same place. Shameless couch thief. I've "crashed" at my own damn place. 

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

See, I appreciate bookmarks. And I want to like bookmarks. And I have a shit ton of bookmarks. But unless it's a library copy, I dog-ear. Otherwise, there's always the classic 'straight up using U.S currency as a bookmark' option, which for some reason really confuses people. 

3. Can you  just stop reading or do you have to stop read after a chapter / certain number of pages?

Ah, see, this is another one of those things where I seem like I'll be particular, but I'll stop feeln' it in the middle of a sentence and set that thing down for, like, a week. 

4. Do you eat or drink while read?

Oh, all the time. I don't so much have meals as I do just constantly fill my body with a consistent amount of food. I'm always eating. Always. 

5. Multitasking: music or TV while reading?

Nooooooooo. Well, at least not music. I read books with a cinematic-style vision in my head, and if I have the wrong music on, it ruins the whole scene. Yep, that's right: Perregrinne Hart, who has carried on entire conversations while in the thick of a literary climax, cannot stand listening to music while reading. Even if it's in the corresponding playlist. 

But TV? Bring that shit on, man! This probably isn't good, but my television is basically always on while I filter through a cycle of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Even while I'm engrossed in fantasy, the world of politics lies dormant, waiting...

6. One book at a time or several at once?

ONE. BOOK. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. I write reviews. I cannot afford to mix that shit up. 

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere, man. You cannot go wrong by bringing a book somewhere. It's always a work in progress, something that you're at work on, something you have to do. I'm one of those people that doesn't mind reading in public, to the point at which I've openly sobbed in restaurants multiple times. Shamelessly. I'll just point and say, "book" in a shaky voice, and my kind will understand. 

 

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

A mix. Back to the seeing things cinematically thing---I'm always imagining how someone would go about portraying the characters in a book. Sometimes, I'll latch onto one in particular, and I find myself reading out their thoughts and their words. It gets awkward sometimes. 

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Yes, actually. I've even read a few books backwards by chapter, from last to first. (I did that with the first two books in the Chemical Garden trilogy, by example.) And I'll only ever skip pages when I'm bored, or there's something I'm really looking forward to. Like, with the Lunar Chronicles, I always read Cress' point of view first, then flipped back to read the others'. 
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I don't mind roughing up my books a bit, but the spine? Oh no, pal. I'm terrified of pages falling out (probably because of my traumatic experiences with a fifty-year-old copy of The Hobbit), so I'll screw up the covers, bend the pages, cover them in pencil, but you will not find a single book of mine, not even a paperback, with creases on the spine. (Unless one of my friends has borrowed it first, the heathens.) 

 

11. Do you write in your books?

Annotating 4eva, dude. Most often with a pen or a pencil, but I break out the highlighters and the gel pens for rereads of my favorites. My friends are all horrified; they're under the impression that books are sacred, but me? I'm 100% here for thoughts meaning more. You'll never catch me writing on the pages of a library book, though, but if I feel like it still really needs a piece of my mind, you bet the next patron's gonna find some intense frickin' sticky notes. 

Review
4 Stars
Did I Review It Right?
Snow White: A Graphic Novel - Matt Phelan, Matt Phelan

   Graphic novels are baffling things. They can't be read like prose, nor can they be reviewed by it. The process of reading them is absurdly fast, yet shockingly slow. Snow White by Matt Phelan is no exception. 

   I have a fair confession to make: I have no idea what I am doing. I'm unsure as to whether or not Snow White's plot should be docked for a simplified antagonist. I can't begin to contemplate whether or not aesthetics and the style of art should influence my opinion of the story, or the work overall. And, most of all, I am uncertain of my ability to articulate my thoughts on this book properly. I don't have much experience as a critic of graphic novels. 

    Snow White by Matt Phelan conjures up that same sense of uncertainty, just in the way that it is told. By far, Phelan's interpretation is the closest to the original that I've ever read. Even so, it has a different, darker feeling that plays  with your memories of the fairy-tale. Recognizable and unrecognizable, fascinatingly at the same time. 

   The summary, boasting of "showcasing the Depression Era's cultural dynamism & vivid personalities," undoubtedly falls into inaccuracy, but not in the complete-disappointment manner, either. While readers are told to expect a vivid, setting-focused story, Snow White turns out to be exactly the opposite, using the setting of late twenties' New York City as more of a background than anything else. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it is shown later in the graphic novel, but it's certainly misleading, to say the least. 

   The truth of the matter is that while the idea of fairy tales re-occurring in particularly prettily-remembered points of history is captivating, the extreme use of the setting and promised creative links to history just weren't there. 

   However, I'm tempted to say that the use of a somewhat passive setting almost makes up for it. You do indeed get some semblance of a feel for the New York of almost a hundred years ago, even if it is only in passing. Phelan's success in this novel is directly linked to how his mind conjured up the idea. This is probably just because of the nature of the story, but the storyline of Snow White just works in this era, almost as fittingly and naturally as the story itself progresses. 

   It just makes sense to watch the new band of dwarves venture through New York City; it makes sense for Samantha (Snow) White to have pranced through Central Park in the winter as a child; it makes sense for the evil stepmother (though the characterization was a bit weak) to be some sort of performer, in an era of trumpets and sequins and low-waist dresses. 

   As a visual storyteller, Phelan is given the unique opportunity to elaborate by literally putting a picture in his readers' minds. This isn't always fully used--perhaps for the purposes of a metaphorical flow or a distaste for cluttering on the page--but when it is, the results are quite impressive. 

   For example, there are a few scenes where he draws streets and buildings in full detail, all of which do more immersion than anything else. Just those few scenes successfully set the mood for most all those who follow, and though Snow's face pops up more often than the setting, it's impossible not to focus on the latter. 

   However, there is a trade-off to graphic novels, and it all leads back to the details as well. There were points where everything faded into black, leaving only a character's face, or their hands, and though shots like that can certainly be powerful, they are a little too abundant in Snow White, where the first third of the novel is too simplistic to establish itself. Where there is not prose to create imagery, images alone must do the task, and if they're mostly dark backgrounds and pauses on the faces of characters, the story has a good chance of getting lost. 

   In fact, for a decent portion, it did. The beginning of the graphic novel doesn't look quite the way it must. A few chapters, long ones, at that, completely lack the title character, and instead focus on Phelan's re-incarnation of the evil stepmother, who truly isn't all that interesting. 

   Granted, she was sort of a Mary Sue villain type from the moment she first appeared in the Grimm version, but there was an opportunity to give her depth, and Phelan didn't take it. 

   Though I'd be loathe to not mention how easily the end can win a reader over. As the story comes to its own conflict, the writing and the emotional intensify rise and burst quite satisfyingly. 

   All things considered, Snow White is exactly what it says on the tin. It's all about feel; the feel of the 20's, the feel of fairy tales, the feel of watercolor drawings in black and white with (admittedly well-placed) hints of red. 

   Plelan's creation is basically a reboot, not a retelling, not a reworking, just Snow White. It's easy to be disappointed, but it's also possible to to enjoy it for what it does contribute. 

Review
5 Stars
For Teachers and Students of Any Variety
Ink and Bone: The Great Library - Rachel Caine

  As the first read of 2017, Ink and Bone truly started this year off with a bang. I've been vaguely seeing this series -around- and halfway through the prologue, I had no expectation that I would be blown away the way I was.

   For those seldom readers of high fantasy like myself, Rachel Caine's novel about an all-powerful library & a young book smuggler offers a good jumping off point, for fantasy as a genre and the rest of what I anticipate will be an excellent series. As is expected, the world is difficult to get used to, the unfamiliar lingo is somewhat off-putting, & it's certainly a while before the complex politics come of interest, but once Ink and Bone gets started, there is no setting it down. 

   At a moderate 351 pages, this elaborate fantasy shrugs off the foreboding cloak usually worn by the pilot book to a high fantasy series, and instead proves itself to be far more approachable than one might expect. Suppose it now wears a familiar school uniform. 

   Though the scope doesn't expand much past the affairs of the countries & the central stories of maybe six supporting characters, Caine's new series certainly shows a deep promise to go bigger. This might be intentional, judging by how damn enticing just a small glimpse into this world is. 

   Without a doubt, this thrilling, heartpounding, and fascinating novel would have made the favorites list had I finished it last year. And it might hold on just yet...if its sequels don't get in the way. 

   We open on Jess Brightwell, a son of a family of book smuggler,s tasked with delivering stolen books to paying customers, much to the disapproval of the great library. In Rachel Caine's fascinating magical world, the library is a foreboding institution; the modern-day authority is actually the library of Alexandria, with a tight hold on expression, government, and the distribution of books. 

   In this world, no one is allowed to own their own books. Everything is controlled by the library through a complicated system of alchemy that powers nearly everything, from the basic exchange of information through published works to personal journals to just messages from one person to another.

   The worldbuilding is barely covered with just a basic description, even. It's excellently crafted from the start, and has, I predict, an instant effect on book lovers, most likely horrified at the idea of not being allowed to have their own book collection. 

   Caine's idea keeps on expanding for basically the entire book. Once you have the general idea down, your mind is constantly given more to ponder, like the ethics of this sort of system or the politics of those who oppose it. 

   One might say that Ink and Bone is a series built primarily by world, In fact, the world might even be the best part of the book, but the characterization is excellent and certainly not to be ignored. 

   Jess, for example, isn't the most dynamic and interesting protagonist a reader could ask for, but he's consistent and realistic in relation to his conflict. his perspective is useful to the story, from both within and outside the grips of the library, but one could argue that another character might have better served as the protagonist. However, Jess is easily believable; as a conflicted moderate, he's an effective voice for the political turmoil in Ink and Bone, able to come at it from a variety of stances, including that of the world's radical Burners and generate an authentic feel for most anything. 

   Readers will most likely be able to find at least a little bit of themselves in Jess, and his story, whether it's the desire to own and read freely or a hesitant compassion for a family in which he doesn't quite belong or possibly even the contempt for institutions and their grueling training. 

   And, if not, there's still an entire cast of side characters to fall in love with. {And thus begins the gushing...}

   Thomas is the first friend Jess makes once in the domain of Alexandria. Incredibly distinctive and intriguing, Thomas' character pairs off of Jess' flawlessly, and the way in which Rachel Caine uses his traits and voice to enrich and excite the story is only a testament to how well she writes characters--and expertly uses their most recognizable elements as their abstract antagonists throughout the rest of the story. 

   Also in the line-up of supporting characters is Glain, a fellow postulant (student) of the library. For most of the book, she keeps her distance, but she's still quite the character. She's from Wales, which turns out to add some immense weight to her perspective, because of the decades-old war that wages on the border with England. This comes up a few times, interspersed with blatant, in-your-face action and when it does, the whole tone of writing shifts. In addition, she's not just politically compelling, but personally compelling. The contrast she adds to the mix balances wonderfully with the spirits of the other character,s and she doesn't have the shortage of sentimental punch, either. In this first book, we really don't see much of her but that's the mark of a good side character: you still want more. 

   Scholar Wolfe, however, who serves as a teacher, might just have snagged the title of most intriguing supporting character. From his first appearance to his last, he's conflicted and extremely well-written. With his character, Caine crafts a dramatic and shocking tale of machination and betrayal, much of which only occurs in passing. Even so, one can't help but need to know more. 

   Of course, there's loads more characters brimming with mystery, but their stories are so expansive that even the full novel barely scratches the surface. 

   Plot-wise, Ink and Bone is absolutely stellar. Once given the chance to pick up after the introduction, the story itself is practically on fire. 

   It's chock-full of mystery and entanglement, action and contemplation. Several plots are woven together as one, in fact, this is done so well that every advance in one is near a breakthrough in another. 

   The main plot is probably the dubiety of the library, which is discovered, explored, and tested for a good majority of the novel. it goes without saying that this must be done well in order for the book to be a success. (Spoiler Alert: it was.) 

   ink and Bone conducts what I like to call remote worldbuilding, or using the development of a prominent fictional institution to craft the rest of the world as an alternative to having the characters see and describe it themselves, or go off on an unrelated info dump. As the plot within the library thickens, as does the rest of the world, and every other narrative in the book. 

   The best thing, though, about Caine's plot is that it gets more exciting as the meanings, intentions, and innerworkings of the main focus get more complex. This way, there's no losing the reader as things get harder to juggle and understand; there's only drawing them in further. 

   And, of course, there's no forgetting about pacing, an issue that a fantasy writer might ignore in favor of elaborate worldbuilding instead. 

   This isn't an issue for Ink and Bone, though some might be less intrigued by classroom scenes than other.s The build-up to the blatant action we're all waiting for is slow, but understandably so. Exposition and initiation may not be the best points of the novel, but the pacing makes sense, and that's enough for it to be satisfying. 

   Very few fictional worlds are complete without a solid system of politics, and Ink and Bone is no exception. The politics and conflict in this world are not only well-constructed but connected to the main characters in a very authentic way. In Caine's writing, the political is quite easily personal, and the personal is monumental in its own right. 

   One of the reasons her politics are so interesting might be that they're so emotional and desperate in motivations. Jess often explains how his stance is inspired partially by just the feeling of owning books, the want for freedom. The radical book burners are violent and passionate in their deeds, those suffering under the thumb of the library directly have their hearts involved. 

   In fact, it seems as if the only side that comes at this with logic, cold cynicism, and a goal in mind is the library itself. 

   This same strength of emotions carries through the rest of the book as well, which is easily evidenced by the complete meltdown that was the result of a particularly heartwrenching climax. 

   From fairly early on, Rachel Caine is able to get you to latch on to her characters. With not just sympathy, by complete and authentic empathy. It's not so much a fresh twist (something we all eagerly look forward to in new releases) as it is our old favorites done a high justice. Adventure, a love of language, schools, magic, and institutional corruption are all things we've read about before, maybe even in the same book, but Ink and bone stands out because it is all of these things but better. (And maybe as more of a tearjerker.) 

   One last good element that must be acknowledged is the skill with which the interpersonal dynamics of this book are written. Every exchange has a great degree of weight to it, whether it's clear at the time or you find out about it later. 

   The friendships are just as wrought with pain and intensity as the romances. Those, on the other hand, are subtle, small, and don't take away from the story. (Which is greatly appreciated.) When the do end up vital, though, Caine tells their story and makes it matter with little elaboration and lots of heart. 

   The thing that really makes this book the sentimental success that it is would be the well-written student-teacher dynamic. This sin't something that commands the readers attention (it might even be the opposite), but it's easy to notice and appreciate, especially as a student. it's not as popular a relationship to write about, but when it's featured in Ink and Bone, and it's done well, it could easily give a reader more heartache than any other relationship. 

   In conclusion, Ink and Bone is an excellent kick off to what I am sure will be an excellent series. With well-executed characters, an enticing plot, heart-wrenching politics, and extremely present emotional intensity, this book is what we love done beautifully. 

   It's perfect for a seeker of high fantasy plus books plus schooling plus getting extremely nervous every twenty pages. 

   A fair warning, though, some may find this book a bit dry, as it is very much politics and history-based, but there's no shortage of action and excitement in turn to fill it in and raise the stakes. 

   There are also some loose ends and subplots that weren't quite followed to the end, but I'm keeping faith that the sequel (which I need in my hands, desperately, at this very second) will continue with as much detail and excitement as the first. 

  With this book, Rachel Caine has truly kicked some magical ass. 

I lost my dystopian in San Francisco

You know that thing dystopian authors do? Like, where they just casually drop the names of landmarks, and then wait for you to be like, "heh. I know where that is." Usually, they'll completely drop all the things in the story and pause just so they can mention the Golden Gate Bridge. ("This used to be such a beautiful place. But then the Super Evil Regime bombed it with Super Evil Plague.") 

 

I've read three books this year alone that feature San Francisco somehow. (Looking at you, Altered, World After, and Eve.) And it's funny, because they've all hinted at the skyline and cable-cars and the golden gate bridge. I find it quite ironic that the authors of these books expect us to all immediately know what any of these things are. Imagine if you did that with Laughlin, Nevada. (Knockoff Las Vegas if Las Vegas were tiny and on a river.)  

 

 We walk through a broken town. A small brook crosses right near a pathetic boardwalk with dried-out palm trees and completely pointless piers. As I stare up at a building barely standing to its former height, I can make out an odd word: Edgewater. 

 

Yeah, I'll be damned if you know what that place looks like. I barely remember it and I'm only a forty-five minute drive away from being FROM THERE. 

 

I don't necessarily have a problem with it, I just wish their Destroyed City choices were a bit more inclusive. There are basically two options for any kind of fictional adventure story and those options are either 1) A completely invented new world (I mean, come on, you just know the only reason writers invent a new world for their story is so they don't have to do research) or 2) New York or San Francisco. (Or, if it's set somewhere outside the U.S, it's Paris. The day a Young Adult contemporary is set in Singapore or Vienna is the day I write a blog post that doesn't have run-on sentences.) 

 

Since I live in Vegas, I've been aching to see the city I live in featured in a book. Specifically a Young Adult or Children's book, because if I keep those past their due date at the library, there's no late fee. Think of the possibilities. A heroine protagonist could gag at tipped over NAKED LADIES ads. Some dude could make fun of the Drumpf Tower. There could be an epic battle on the UNLV campus that wasn't over which bagel place to go to. ("BUT BARISTA CAFE ISN'T EVEN FOR BAGELS, LYNN!") 

 

There are some twists you can make to this kind of thing that make San Francisco less cliché, but I will not rest until Dubuque, Iowa is the setting of the apocalypse. 

Reblogged
A Survey Thing

Saw this over on Got My Book and couldn't resist.

 

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? 
Open

 

2. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?

Untucked because I can't bother to tuck them back under in the morning.

 

3. Have you ever stolen a street sign before?

I was the lookout once but it was one of those 'Dump Here' signs soooo does it even count as a 'street sign'?

 

4. Do you cut out coupons and never use them?
I'm often given coupons by coworkers but I hardly ever remember to use them (or ever intend to).

 

5. Would you rather be attacked by bears or bees?
I've been stuck at least twice before by bees. I can only picture that scene from *spoiler alert* My Girl right now which makes me skew more towards a bear attack.

 

6. Do you have freckles? 

Yes

 

7. Do you always smile for pictures?

No, sometimes I look sassy. lol

 

8. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?
No

 

9. Have you ever peed in the woods?

It was inside of a camper that was parked in the woods...
 

10. What about pooped in the woods?
Ditto the above

 

11. Do you chew your pens and pencils?

No.

 

12. What’s your song of the week? 

How about soundtrack? I get into these kicks with different albums/soundtracks where I'll listen to them on repeat. Right now I'm really into the soundtrack from The Theory of Everything.


13. Is it okay for guys to wear pink?
Of course!

 

14. Do you still watch Cartoons?

Animated movies are some of my favorites. I don't really watch much television cartoons though.

 

15. What do you drink with dinner?

If I'm at home it's always water. Usually if I'm out it's water or Ginger Ale (unless it's Bareburger in which case I get Sarsaparilla).

 

16. What do you dip a chicken nugget in?

Honey mustard, hot sauce, or bbq

 

17. What’s your favourite food? 

Korean food

 

18. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?

Nope

 

19. Would you ever strip or pose naked for a magazine?
Doubt it.

 

20. Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
No

 

21. Favorite kind of sandwich?

Probably tuna with a LOT of pickles.


22. Best thing to eat for breakfast?

Cereal with a cup of coffee or at least that's what I have most mornings even if it's not the best. lol

 

23. What’s your usual bedtime?

1130-1230 depending on the level of insomnia I'm experiencing


24. Are you lazy?
I can be.

 

25. What is your Chinese astrology sign?
I had to Google it but it's the Ox. Apparently this means I'm diligent and honest.

 

26. How many languages can you speak?

English with a smattering of Spanish, French, and Russian (and I do mean a smattering).

 

27. Do you have any magazine subscriptions?

Yes, because I'm a sucker.

 

28. Are you stubborn?

Sometimes.

 

29. Are you afraid of heights?

YES


30. Do you sing in the car? 

When I'm in one, I insist on it.

 

31. Do you ever dance in the car?

Yes

 

32. Ever used a gun?

No, and I don't ever plan on it.

 

33. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer? 

My bestie's mom was a photographer and she did a whole shoot with us when I think we were freshmen or sophomores in college.

 

34. Do you think muscles are cheesy?

Only if the one flexing is a being made entirely of cheese...or it's Vinny from Casual Sex?.

 

35. Favorite type of fruit pie? 

Lemon

 

36. Occupation you wanted to be when you were a kid?

Archaeologist then veterinarian then performer.

 

37. Do you believe in ghosts?
I wish I could unequivocally say no but I'm fairly positive my grandmother's house was haunted.


38. Ever had a deja-vu feeling?

Yes.

 

39. First concert?

Backstreet Boys


40. Nike or Adidas?
AirWalk

 

41. Ever take dance lessons?
For a zillion years


42. Regularly burn incense? 

No, I'm terrified of flames so I can't light matches or have candles or anything of the sort in my apartment.

 

43. Who would you like to see in concert?

I'd like to see alt-J again. They were really awesome. Also, I wish I could go back in time and see The Beatles.

 

44. Hot tea or cold tea?

Depends on the mood and where I am. If I'm back in Alabama, ice cold sweet tea can't be beat.

 

45. Tea or Coffee?

Impossible choice! I love both of my addictions equally.

 

46. Can you swim well? 

Yeah


47. Are you patient?
For the most part.


48. DJ or band at a wedding? 

DJ

 

49. Which are better, black or green olives?

Green

 

50. Would you rather live in a fictional world or the real world?
Which fictional world? If it was Harry Potter or Star Trek I'd be there in a flash. If it was 1984 not so much.

Reblogged from Reading For The Heck Of It
Reading progress update: I've read 238 out of 337 pages.
A Wicked Thing - Rhiannon Thomas

A Complete List of Rodric's Emotions

 

yay i just impressed my parents

 

yay i just impressed aurora 

 

oh shit now aurora hates me

 

what am i doing with my life

 

i spent my past preparing for something i could never do 

 

AUGGHHH

 

*gasp* I GET TO GO ON A GARDEN WALK WITH AURORA FCUK I'M SO EXCITED AHDOAWIER;LADJSHFON WUEYFNACS DJFHOUWER

 

 I CAN FIX EVERYTHING! 

Reading progress update: I've read 181 out of 337 pages.
A Wicked Thing - Rhiannon Thomas

Bitch Queen 101: 

 

Tell two different people that have almost regular access to each other completely different things about the same person and hope no one decides to use words. 

 

Cause that always works. 

 

Imprisoned Badass 101: 

 

Develop a sweet spot for the enemy. Nice. 

 

Ineffective Rebel 101: 

 

Just copy Russia! 

 

Barney Stinson...Royal Edition™ 101: 

 

Fuck with people and then run back home to your already existing position of power. Repeat with Falreach. (probably) 

 

Human Blush 101: 

 

Have only one personality trait: inconvenient adorableness. 

 

June Wrap-Up...I guess.

Since I read twelve books in June, all of which I either loved passionately, enjoyed with fervor, or hated and wanted to chuck into a fire I set with my MIND. (you know who you are) 

 

Without further ado, here are the books I read in June, as well as the things they did. Oh, man. That sounds bad. Really, only a few of them did bad things. It's fine. I'm okay. I have the Lunar Chronicles and I'm okay. 

 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer kept me from being bored out of my damn mind in Forensics. (And it also got a concerning number of people to ask if I was okay.) 

 

The Heir by Kiera Cass reminded me that books tend to inadvertently hate friendship and that I, not canon, was the one that had to do something about characters like Eadlyn's jackass brother. (Spoilers? Really? I mean, come on, you just knew he was going to be a jackass.) 

 

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller slapped me as soon as I started to descend into capitalist foolishness. 

 

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee shattered the illusion and also slapped me as soon as I started to descend into idolizing foolishness. 

 

The Innocents by Francesca Segal reminded me that there are still abominations in this world, whether I read them or not, also that scathing reviews are really fun to write. 

 

Altered by Gennifer Albin reminded me that sometimes sequels and additions are better, and a beautiful moment comes around every once in a while in which your author fixes all the problems they created and gives you unfettered joy. For once. 

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir made me realize that magic is like salt. First, you must ask yourself, "do you really need this, or are you just ruining your food i mean story?"

 

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah was just all kinds of YESSSS!

 

Glitches by Marissa Meyer was a short story that made me cry. 

 

Cress by Marissa Meyer was a giant book that was just five hours of screaming. Yeah, five hours of screaming. That works. 

 

Black Butler Volume Three by Yana Toboso was everything I ever wanted from a demon butler with a nice ass. 

 

World After by Susan Ee came this close to being annoying due to hot dude tirades, but it was saved by a sharktastic action sequence. 

 

Rebel Bell by Rachel Hawkins knocked the eff out of urban fantasy and somehow became everything that I wanted out of Carrier of the Mark but was somehow deprived of. 

 

June overall, however, was the worst. Just the absolute worst. 

 

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Romance Novel - Shiver by Maggie Steifvater. 

 

personal note: wait but i loved it????? this wasn't supposed to happen????? i only read books about werewolves ironically???? but i friggin loved it??????

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For the First Book In A New Series Challenge, I read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. It was an epic, dramatic, moving start to what I'm expecting to be a freaking awesome trilogy. I'm so happy with the fact that it's a fantasy world, with invented country names and royalty and duels and fictional cultures, and no unnecessary magical stuff. I'm usually bored to death by books that kind of copy Rome's situation of invasion and prejudiced bullshit, but The Winner's Curse played that situation really, really well. There's also a ton of tension in this book. For some reason, she writes a romance that's really easy to feel for, and keeps the suspense and risks going with it while also making it wholly satisfying. GAH!

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Awesome booklikes blogger Moonlight Reader made a bingo card as a summer reading challenge. 

 

I've been doing and keeping track of this challenge pretty much since school got out, and I finally got the bright idea to start posting my updates here instead of Pinterest. 

 

So, without further ado: SUMMER BOOKS! 

 

For Over 400 Pages, I read Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. My edition has 505 pages and an acute sense of accomplishment. This was one of the best and most loved books of my year, and oh, man, did I have some fun. 

 

For a Young Adult or Children's Title, I read The Heir by Kiera Cass. After the awesomeness that was the Selection Trilogy, i found the Heir quite disappointing, and I think I'll give it Most Hated Side Character at the end of this year. 

 

For Deceased Author, I read Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller. Help me, Willy, I can't cry. 

 

For Historical Fiction, I read Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. Goddamnit, Atticus. Why can't you be the false, overestimated childhood hero we all want? 

 

For A Book Bust Or Bummer, I read The Innocents by Francesca Segal. Scathing review to come soon. 

 

But it's okay, because then I read Altered by Gennifer Albin for Space Opera or Other Science Fiction, which made everything right in the universe. Well, my universe. The universe in the book is fuuuuuuuuuu

 

For Fantasy, I read An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, which, as I stated to a group of disappointed and shocked friends, I find less of a fantasy epic and more of a fantasy...meh.

 

For a book with a terrible cover, I read Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah, which has a terrible cover, for a ton of reasons. (Both versions, by the way.) Here's the thing: this book is pretty decent, and after reading a solid four-star contemporary that takes place in Australia and has a diverse and expressive main character, I'm a little less scared of them.

 

But I'm no less disappointed by the cover. There are two versions of this cover. One of them, the one I put on this board, has two digital-animation people, half cropped out of frame on opposite sides of the book, trying to symbolize the main character's interest in awkward simulated video game characters. There's also this weird pink-striped background, which, I mean, come on. Any cover could be better than this. 

 

The other one was, mostly. There's a cool decorative background, but my main problem is with the photo strip. It's so awkward. Two of these pictures are weirdly sensual smirks, and then the other two are somewhat both playfully curious, like the look someone feigns while they're standing in front of the Statue of Liberty but at New York New York casino, and they're like, "wow...I thought it would be bigger." It's just...so awkward. 

 

Then, after that, I read Cress by Marissa Meyer for a book with travel, because spaceships and traversing the desert on the edge of death both count as travel. (They also both count as extremely entertaining, thank you very much.) 

 

For a Graphic Novel, I read the third volume of Black Butler by Yana Toboso, an awesome, epic adventure story about a vengeful child and his walking, badass, suit-clad, Victorian sexual fantasy. (I'm not saying that it's necessary his sexual fantasy, I'm just saying that anyone who's into dudes has probably had Sebastian as a sexual fantasy. Possibly Ciel. I'm saying that. I'm definitely saying that.)

 

For a book that's been on my TBR shelf for over a year, I chose World After by Susan Ee, a sequel that I've been wanting to read ever since about this time last year, when I read Angelfall, which was the bomb. World After wasn't necessarily as good, but the last three-dozen chapters kicked ass. (For your information, there are 72 chapters, so there are still another three dozen chapters that hit short of kicking ass.) 

 

And, most recently, for Mystery and Suspense, I chose Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins, a suspenseful Southern adventure with the perfect blend of characters, the perfect combination of enjoyable shenanigans and mystery, and all kinds of action for one of the most fun experiences I've had this June. (Where were you when I had to sit in a hospital for four hours, Rebel Belle?) 

 

The most disappointing part of this is that I haven't even hit bingo yet.